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Cleaners didn’t know they were being sent in to a ‘hot’ hotel

The Rydges on Swanston became the site of major outbreaks between workers at the hotel, which health experts say is responsible for 90 per cent of current cases in Victoria.

‘‘Were you told Rydges was designated a COVID hotel?’’ counsel assisting the inquiry, Ben Ihle, asked.

‘‘No we weren’t. We weren’t informed,’’ Ikon Services’ general manager Michael Girgis replied.

This is significant as the process the cleaners would go through to put on and take off their personal protective equipment may have changed if they had of known. Their process was donning and doffing full PPE inside the hotel in a designated room, rather than outside of it, before they entered the rooms.

Ikon was called in to clean common areas on May 28 after a staff member at the hotel tested positive to COVID-19 on May 26.

But Mr Girgis said he only found out why they had been asked to clean common areas when they contacted the hotel.

A discarded glove Mr de Kretser found on the floor of his dirty hotel room.

A discarded glove Mr de Kretser found on the floor of his dirty hotel room.

‘‘That was the only way we found, just by chance that morning, by asking the question,’’ Mr Girgis said.

Ikon was called back to clean the hotel on June 3 and 4. By that time, the hotel had been shut down to new arrivals after more workers tested positive. Not that Mr Girgis was told, he said.

‘‘No we weren’t made aware of that as well,’’ he said.

Health department medical advisors ordered a deep clean of common areas after the first positive test on May 26, which Ikon was contracted to do.

Rubbish left in Hugh de Kretser's room at the Rydges hotel.

Rubbish left in Hugh de Kretser’s room at the Rydges hotel.

But, the inquiry heard previously, the deep clean was inadequate with a wrong disinfectant used.
Mr Girgis said he was never told their cleaning wasn’t up to scratch.

Mr Girgis was also shown photos taken by prominent human rights lawyer Hugh De Kretser, who was quarantined in the Rydges in late June when it was reopened to new arrivals after it was shut down from early June after the outbreaks.


The photos showed used face masks and plastic gloves under the bed, food crumbs on the floor and stains on the doonas.

The room had not been used since it was cleaned in early June.

‘‘This is not indicative of the work we produce,’’ Mr Girgis said, at a loss to explain why the room was in such a state.

Mr Girgis’ lawyer said in the swabs of more than 1000 rooms Ikon had cleaned had always come back negative for COVID-19.

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